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Lesley Resident Artists

A discovery and training program for emerging young opera singers, the Lesley Resident Artists program offers professional experience to exceptional performers every year. This group of highly talented and driven young opera singers is selected through a nationwide audition process. Contracted for one or two seasons, they come to Fort Worth Opera to work for a professional opera company in order to further or launch their performance careers.

 

While in Fort Worth, Lesley Resident Artists will sing at various community, donor, and social events, perform recitals, and receive voice lessons, language and diction coaching. They will also participate in masterclasses with established artists and agents brought in by Fort Worth Opera, to foster their artistic development and provide fresh perspectives on the business of singing.

Meet Our Lesley Resident Artists

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Gabrielle Gilliam

Soprano

 

Praised for her “beautifully resonant vocal quality” (Texas Classical), Dallas-based soprano, Gabrielle Gilliam, is a Fort Worth Opera Lesley Resident Artist, Florentine Opera Summer Concert Resident Artist, as well as a regional finalist for the 2020-2021 Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. This season Gabrielle makes her live, mainstage debuts at The Dallas Opera in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as Kate Pinkerton, as well as Il Dottore in Fort Worth Opera’s re-imagined production of Verdi’s La Traviata. She will also cover the roles of Violetta in La Traviata and Luisa in the world premiere of Hector Armienta’s Zorro in the Fort Worth Opera 2021-22 season. In May 2022, Ms. Gilliam will also perform with American Baroque Opera Co. as Melia in Mozart's Apollo et Hyacinthus. Last season she starred in the world premiere of composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s Bernadette's Cozy Book Nook and was part of Fort Worth Opera's inaugural FWO Go program.

 

Despite the constraints of the Covid - 19 pandemic, Gabrielle was engaged in a number of virtual and live performances, including a music video debut of Handel’s “Furie terribili” with Lumedia Musicworks, solo recitals with The Dallas Opera’s TDO Network and Fort Worth Opera, and a virtual opera debut in American Baroque Opera Company’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Most recently, she was a featured soloist alongside Sasha Cooke, Deanna Breiwick, and Lucas Meachem in the orchestra workshop of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a new work by composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer. Prior to the U.S. outbreak of Covid – 19, she was engaged to make her mainstage debut for The Dallas Opera as Amore in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and the Heavenly Voice in Verdi's Don Carlo for the 2020-21 season. Gabrielle was also scheduled to debut at Tulsa Opera as Amore in Orfeo ed Euridice. Originally from Houston, Gabrielle is a proud graduate of University of North Texas.

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Megan Koch

Soprano

 

Soprano Megan Koch returns to Fort Worth Opera as a Lesley Resident Artist in the 2021-2022 season, making her mainstage debut as Annina and covering Violetta in Verdi's popular work, La Traviata. She is also responsible for the role of Ana Maria in the world premier of Hector J. Armienta’s Zorro. In the most recent season, she performed a mobile outdoor opera entitled "Manon on the Move" which included excerpts from Massenet's Manon. She was a featured soloist with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in a concert entitled "America Strong", which was broadcasted on Channel 8 on July 4, 2020. She was responsible for Musetta/La Bohème in the 2019-2020 season and debuted the roles of Mariana and the Grandmother in American composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell's family opera Frida Kahlo and The Bravest Girl in the World as well as Delia in the duo’s Stone Soup

 

Her recent opera role credits include Lucia/Lucia di Lammermoor, Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni, Vixen/Cunning Little Vixen, Fiordiligi/Così fan tutte, Pamina/Die Zauberflöte, Alexandra/Regina, and Rose/Street Scene. Megan was invited to the Czech Republic in 2019 for the premiere of two lost operas by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer for the Olomouc Baroque Festival. A 2019 finalist in the Lewisville Lake Symphony International Voice Competition and the University of North Texas Concerto Competition, she holds the Master of Music Degree and the Graduate Artist Certificate from UNT as well as a Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University.

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Brandon Bell

Baritone

 

Brandon Bell (he/him/his) is a baritone hailing from Suffolk, Virginia. This season, Mr. Bell makes an exciting debut with Fort Worth Opera as one of their Lesley Resident Artists. With Fort Worth Opera, Mr. Bell will appear as Gomez in the world premiere production of Zorro. Additionally, this season, Mr. Bell will cover the dynamic role of Germont and sing Baron Douphol in Fort Worth Opera’s production of La traviata

Mr. Bell was most recently a two-year Resident Artist with Utah Opera, appearing in numerous virtual concerts including Songs for Our Time and Light on the Horizon. He appeared onstage with Utah Opera as Dr. Grenvil in La traviata, the British Major in Silent Night, Montague Somers in Gentleman’s Island, and Garcia/Zuniga in La tragédie de Carmen. Mr. Bell was also a 2021 Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, covering the roles of Momus in Platée and Hawkins Fuller in Fellow Travelers. He also sang the roles of General Arlie and the Bartender in Fellow Travelers. That summer, Mr. Bell was also granted a fellowship at the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute in their Program for Singers, studying and performing art song. 

Additionally, Mr. Bell has humbly appeared on numerous stages across the country, including Chautauqua Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, West Edge Opera, Opera Saratoga, the California Symphony, and the Oakland Symphony.